Boston Woman Allegedly Set Her House on Fire Because It Was "Haunted." "The Devil Made Me Do It"

“I’m sorry, I had to do it.”

A Boston woman set fire to her apartment building because she was convinced there's something deeply wrong with it. Nikea Rivera, 45, believed the building was haunted—and that fire was the only way to cleanse the property. "The devil made me do it, there are ghosts in my house," she reportedly told booking officers. Firefighters managed to put out the blaze, but Rivera is facing serious consequences for her actions. Here's what happened to the property, and the people inside it. 

Ghosts In the House

Boston Fire Dept.

Rivera reportedly felt the house had spirits in it. The evil presence she claimed to feel led her to set fire to the 74 Mora St., Dorchester triple-decker at around 11am on Tuesday December 27. The fire quickly spread through three floors, setting off the fire alarm. Firefighters soon arrived at the house to put out the flames.

Firefighters To the Rescue

Boston Fire Dept.

Luckily no one was seriously hurt—the firefighters rescued two residents from the second floor, and one neighbor was taken to hospital for smoke inhalation. "All companies working at 2nd alarm fire @ 74 Mora St Dorchester. The 3 story wood frame has fire on all floors. Several residents rescued," the Boston fire department tweeted.

Admitting To Arson

Boston Fire Dept.

Rivera reportedly admitted her actions to a witness before leaving the scene. "I'm sorry, I had to do it," she said. Police found Rivera later, and she gave them her explanation for why she did it. "That house is haunted," she said. "The devil made me do it, there are ghosts in my house."

Mental Health Evaluation


Rivera was arrested and has been charged with arson for starting the blaze. According to District Attorney Kevin Hayden, she must undergo a mental health evaluation at the Massachusetts Department of Mental Health Worcester Recovery Center and Hospital.

Disturbing Comments

Boston Fire Dept.

Crews were seen boarding up the house, and Rivera is due in court on January 13. "It's fortunate that this woman's actions did not result in any residents or responders being seriously injured or killed. Her statements are obviously disturbing and an immediate evaluation is the proper next step," Hayden says.

Ferozan Mast
Ferozan Mast is a science, health and wellness writer with a passion for making science and research-backed information accessible to a general audience. Read more
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